Being smart has almost no relationship to wealth, research reveals.
Smart people are no more wealthy than those who are considerably less smart, on average, a study has found.
Perversely, very clever people are actually at a slightly higher risk of financial problems.
Dr Jay Zagorsky, the study’s author, said:
“People don’t become rich just because they are smart.
Your IQ has really no relationship to your wealth.
And being very smart does not protect you from getting into financial difficulty.”
The slight wrinkle is that people with higher IQs do tend to have a higher income.
As Dr Zagorsky explains, though, that income is different from wealth:
“Financial success for most people means more than just income.
You need to build up wealth to help buffer life’s storms and to prepare for retirement.
You also shouldn’t have to worry about being close to or beyond your financial limits.”
The conclusions come from 7,403 people in the US who were tracked for almost 40 years in a nationally representative survey.
It found that the income difference between someone of average intelligence and someone in the top 2% is only around $12,000 a year.
However, people of average intelligence had similar amounts of wealth as the more intelligent.
So, how come intelligent people earn more, but are not more wealthy?
This study can’t tell us, but it might be that high-IQ people are not saving as much.
Dr Zagorsky said:
“Just because you’re smart doesn’t mean you don’t get into trouble.
Among the smartest people, those with IQ scores above 125, even 6 percent of them have maxed out their credit cards and 11 percent occasionally miss payments.
Professors tend to be very smart people, but if you look at university parking lots, you don’t see a lot of Rolls Royces, Porsches or other very expensive cars.
Instead you see a lot of old, low-value vehicles.”
This might also suggest that professors — and other intelligent people — have different values and aspirations in life.
Dr Zagorsky concluded:
“Intelligence is not a factor for explaining wealth.
Those with low intelligence should not believe they are handicapped, and those with high intelligence should not believe they have an advantage.”
About the author
Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology.
He has been writing about scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004. He is also the author of the book “Making Habits, Breaking Habits” (Da Capo, 2013) and several ebooks:
- Accept Yourself: How to feel a profound sense of warmth and self-compassion
- The Anxiety Plan: 42 Strategies For Worry, Phobias, OCD and Panic
- Spark: 17 Steps That Will Boost Your Motivation For Anything
- Activate: How To Find Joy Again By Changing What You Do
The study was published in the journal Intelligence (Zagorsky, 2007).